Sunday, 6 May 2018

IMF wants to see reforms go wider, deeper


What We’re Tracking Today

Is the US congress really planning to put conditions on the release of USD 290 mn in aid to Egypt? US Senator Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on Senate’s spending committee, is stipulating that Egypt help pay medical bills for a US tourist who was injured in the 2015 accidental bombing of tourists in the Western Desert as a condition on the USD 290 mn of withheld aid to Egypt, officials from Leahy’s office tell Al Monitor. Leahy is also demanding a “transparent investigation” into Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni’s abduction and murder in Egypt, the pardoning of 43 NGO workers convicted in 2013, and the dismissal of the controversial NGOs law. Egypt has until September to abide by the conditions before the aid expires, the website suggests.

Tell us again about this “Arab force” you want us to contribute to in Syria? Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abou Zaid downplayed statements made last week by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry that implied regional states were considering US President Donald Trump’s proposal to form an Arab military force that would cover America’s withdrawal from Syria. Abou Zaid said the minister’s statement in no way implied that there was a possibility that Egypt might take part in the force, adding that the move won’t happen unless it was in line with constitutional mechanisms.

The next step in Egypt’s economic reforms should be to advance more inclusive growth, said IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton yesterday. “Many countries have escaped financial jeopardy and achieved a measure of macro-stability. But a smaller number have sustained that stabilization and gone on to complete a modernization driving sustained, inclusive growth. Egypt now is at the point where it has a chance to do so. That will require broadening and deepening the reform agenda,” he said in a speech. “We have come to Cairo to participate in a forward-looking conversation about those next steps — to ask what can be done to create greater opportunities for all Egyptians.”

Lipton’s statement comes ahead of a IMF and CBE conference today on inclusive economic growth and job creation. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail CBE Governor Tarek Amer, and Finance Minister Amr El Garhy are all expected to speak at the conference.

The conference is taking place as an IMF delegation is town to conduct the third review of the economic reform agenda, which will unlock a USD 2 bn tranche of the USD 12 bn IMF Extended Fund Facility. The delegation is here until 17 May and the Fund is expected to disburse the tranche sometime in June or July.

Lipton will also give a lecture titled “The Egyptian Economy: Growth and Job Creation” at the American University in Cairo tomorrow. The event is organized by AUC’s School of Business and will take place at the New Cairo campus. Tap or click here for more details (pdf).

LEGISLATION WATCH- Will the Ride-hailing Apps Act get its plenary vote in Parliament today? MP Mohamed Badawy was on the airwaves last night stating that the House of Representatives will hold its critical vote on the Ride-hailing apps today. The law would set a legal framework for Uber and Careem. We have more on his comments in Last Night’s Talk Shows.

Speaking of which — Uber / Careem appeal this Saturday: The Supreme Administrative Court is scheduled to hear on Saturday, 12 May an appeal by Uber and Careem of a lower court decision that ordered the two companies to suspend operations, Al Mal reports. The two companies continue to operate under a Court of Urgent Matters ruling that stayed the initial suspension.

Also worth a moment of your time this morning:

You think we have high interest rates? They’re at 40% in Argentina.Our favourite South American country has hiked interest rates by 6.75 points, its third such hike in less than a week “in an increasingly desperate attempt to halt the country’s peso from sliding further against the USD.” The question, the FT writes, is whether Argentina is “a bellwether for emerging markets that have benefited hugely from years of loose US monetary policy now coming to an end” or an exceptional case. It’s prompted the FT’s John Authers to openly ask “Do we have another emerging markets crisis on our hands,” coming as it does as cross-border flows into EM bonds and equities came to a sudden stop in April.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway held its annual meeting yesterday, and the so-called Oracle of Omaha reassured shareholders that the conglomerate would remain “the buyer of choice” for companies even after he shrugs off this mortal coil. See wall-to-wall coverage in the Financial Times, Reuters (here, here and here), Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and CNBC. The takeaways: Berkshire turned in a net loss this quarter because of a change in accounting rules that are going to produce “wild” but meaningless swings in results, Buffett says; its operating profit is up nicely; and he really likes Apple’s USD 100 bn share buyback.

Goldman Sachs has decided it’s going to trade bitcoin, likely the first such trading operation at a Wall Street bank.

It’s election day in Lebanon as voters choose a new parliament, casting ballots for the first time in nine years against a background with “many” crises, including “a mn Syrian refugees are straining public services; a shaky economy is increasingly teetering; garbage is piling up; fear is spreading of a new war between Hezbollah and Israel; and the political class has failed to find solutions.”

Turkey has found its Moussa Whatshisname Moussa in the form of a former high school principal who will challenge Erdogan in next month’s presidential election after being tapped by the country’s biggest opposition party.

** Communications tip for CEOs: That microphone is ALWAYS on, so don’t start singing “we’re in the money” when you’re announcing your merger, as J Sainsbury boss Mike Coupe did while waiting to be interviewed on TV to discuss his GBP 10 bn lash-up with Asda. Eyes and ears open, mouth shut, ladies and gents, when a mic or a camera is pointed in your direction.

** How to survive your 40s, by the New York Times’ inimitable Pamela Druckerman, is required reading for all this morning, whether you’re in your 30s, your 40s or have already passed through that decade. The olds among us nodded along with damn near every sentence she wrote.

Speaking of olds: Alice in Chains has its first new song out in something like five years. It’s not half bad.

PSA- Look for cloudy, somewhat cooler weather with a chance of rain and dust today in the capital city, with the mercury peaking at 28°C in Cairo, according to our favourite weather app. The national weather service is warning Upper Egypt could see high temps, winds and blowing dust today. Look for a two-day heat wave Thursday and Friday, with highs of 40°C.

What We’re Tracking This Week

The central bank will auction off USD 1.1 bn in one-year USD-denominated treasury bills tomorrow, Reuters reports.

Our friends at AmCham will be holding their fifth annual HR Day tomorrow. The gathering will discuss new ways of attracting talent, developing culture, implementing leadership practices and diversity and inclusion, in addition to raising questions on the value of a company’s culture. You can register for the event here.

The Egyptian embassy in London will be hosting a “Made in Egypt” gala on Tuesday, 8 May. The event, which will exhibit the work of leading Egyptian designers, is sponsored by Mr & Mrs Samih Sawiris, CIB, Edita, EgyptAir, Palm Hills, Ramsco and SODIC.

Inflation numbers should come out on or about this Thursday, 10 May. This month is all the more significant as the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet on 17 May to set interest rates.

On The Horizon

The Egyptian and Russian foreign and defense ministers are scheduled to meet in Moscow on 14 May, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday, according to TASS. The two countries’ ministers are expected to discuss “the state of affairs in key areas of Russian-Egyptian cooperation,” as well as hold 2+2 talks on regional developments in the Middle East and North Africa.

Contracts for the Russian Industrial Zone (RIZ) should be signed at the end of May, Russia’s Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Georgy Kalmanov said last month.

LEGISLATION WATCH- The Tenders and Auctions Act will go to a plenary session vote this month, according to House Planning Committee member Rep. Yasser Omar.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The airwaves were chock-full of economic and business topics last night, with the highlight being a debate on Kol Youm on the Ride-hailing apps act.

Ride-hailing Apps Act comes up for a vote in the House of Representatives today, MP Mohamed Badawy said, explaining that the act will provide Uber and Careem with a legal framework to operate in Egypt.

MP Ahmed Badawy (we’re not sure of his relation to Mohamed) argued the finer points of the law with Uber representative Mohamed El Refai. Badawy appears to have been in favor of controversial clauses that stipulate companies need to keep user data in Egypt — and share it with government bodies. The pair also debated the soundness of forcing hired cars to sport a sticker identifying their association with an app. Badawy also revealed that wildcats operating in the ride-hailing ‘space’ without a license could face prison and fines of up to EGP 5 mn (watch, runtime: 7:49).

Banks will start paying out interest today on high-yielding certificates of deposit they issued following the devaluation, according to Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi. The 20% CDs drew in deposits of EGP 676 bn, said Lamees. She called for new savings certificates be made available to help draw down liquidity in the market and move it to the banking system (watch, runtime: 23:24).

National Bank of Egypt (NBE) Deputy Head Yehia Aboul Fotouh said that his bank will be paying depositors EGP 188 bn in the two months for their CDs. He expects the bank’s clients to reinvest the money in other savings instruments offered including the three-year certificates with yields of 15% and others with variable interest rates (watch, runtime: 4:20).

Competition for funds from real estate? Economist Reham El Desouky expects those who have little disposable income who have bought into the 20%-yield CDs to likely reinvest in other instruments. She expects real estate to compete for the newly available funds (watch, runtime: 7:00).

Amr Adib has oil on the brain: Eni’s new oil discovery in the western desert exhilarated Kol Youm’s Amr Adib who suggested that the company be allowed to explore for gas in all of Egypt. Adib even called on the antiquities minister to stop with excavations for antiquities. “We do not want antiquities any more. We have too many of them,” he said. “I want an oil or gas field” (watch, runtime: 4:33). (We have more Eni’s discovery in Energy, below.)

The new education system continued to attract plenty of attention on the airwaves, with Education Minister Tarek Shawky making the rounds. He was Hona Al Asema’s guest for more than one and a half hours to delve into the highlights of the strategy and to address all concerns levelled from parents or students (watch, runtime: 7:24). He also called in to Al Hayah Al Youm to address these same issue (watch, runtime: 9:34).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Business conditions in Egypt’s non-oil private sector stabilized in April, according to the Emirates NBD PMI reading (pdf) compiled by Markit. The gauge came in at 50.1 — just above the neutral 50.0 threshold — up from 49.2 in March, reflecting stabilizing output and growth in new orders. New export orders also rose for the fourth month. Companies’ input buying grew at its fastest rate since January, despite the growth being modest, the report noted.

April’s reading indicates “that the non-oil private sector is finally starting to contribute to the positive growth story underway in the country. We anticipate that the PMI will be more consistently positive over the coming quarters, as ongoing economic reforms and loosening monetary policy encourage greater private sector activity,” commented Daniel Richards, MENA Economist at Emirates NBD. The report also noted that companies were increasingly optimistic towards the 12-month outlook for output in April, after the PMI dipped in March, and expect an improvement in demand conditions.

Net foreign reserves grew to USD 44.03 bn in April, up from USD 42.61 bn in March, the CBE announced on Thursday. The CBE did not provide color or analysis on the uptick, which brought reserves to an all-time high.

With reserves looking solid, CBE scraps some import controls: The central bank issued directives on Thursday (pdf) that appear to lift certain import restrictions issued back in 2015. The order cancelled a directive that required an importers’ bank to deal directly with an exporter’s bank in documentary collection, instructing banks to handle documentary collection through their clients. The order also exempts SMEs that import essential food goods from making EGP deposits to cover letters of credit to 100% of the payment amount in USD.

Egypt’s hotels report highest first-quarter occupancy rates since 2010: Hotels in Egypt reported the highest first-quarter occupancy rates since 2010 in 1Q2018, rising 21.2% y-o-y to reach 60.1%, according to data from STR Global. The average daily rate rose 11.8% y-o-y to EGP 1,291.72, while revenue per available room (RevPAR) rose 35.5% to EGP 775.69. The increase in RevPAR “was supported by both the Sharm El Sheikh (+8.49%) and Cairo / Giza (+14.7%) markets, and STR analysts expect this boost to continue as Russia recently resumed flights to Egypt after a two-year suspension.”

MOVES- Our friends at Pharos announced the appointment (pdf) of Noha El Ghazaly as managing director and head of investment banking this weekend. El Ghazaly joins Pharos with more than 10 years of financial services and investment banking experience. She previously served as executive director at HC Securities & Investment and as a board member at HC Brokerage. El Ghazaly also “has a proven track record of achievements in advisory services on several acquisitions, divestitures, capital increases, debt raising, secondary public offerings, and corporate restructuring.”

IPO WATCH- Unionaire Group has reportedly pushed its planned IPO to 1Q2019, company sources said on Thursday. The company has yet to determine the size of its listing, but it will likely be in the range of 30% of its shares, according to the sources. Unionaire Group had been expected to list in 2H2018, as we noted previously. Who’s advising? KPMG Hazem Hassan is currently working on the company’s restructuring plan, EFG Hermes is leading the offering, and Matouk Bassiouny and Sarie Eldin & Partners have been tapped as legal advisors.

BUDGET WATCH- House Budget Committee holds hearings with ministers on FY2018-19 budget: The House of Representatives’ Budget Committee held a series of hearings on Saturday with cabinet ministers to discuss the FY2018-19 budget. Finance Minister Amr El Garhy spoke about his optimism on the state of the economy and the long term objectives of the economic reforms, which he says aims to achieve a sustainable growth of 6-7%. El Garhy reiterated some highlights of the budget, which included seeing state revenues grow to EGP 989 bn from EGP 813 bn. He sees tax revenues increasing to EGP 770 bn from EGP 620 bn, according to Al Mal.

New fees and taxes under the Universal Healthcare Act will be collected in FY2018-19: Perhaps the most interesting tidbit out of the sessions was the revelation that the new taxes imposed by the Universal Healthcare Act to pay for the system come into effect nationwide in the next fiscal year, according to statements by Budget Committee chair Hussein Eissa picked up by Al Mal. While he only names the EGP 0.75% sin tax all cigarette packs sold and the 10% tax on all other tobacco products, the law itself imposes taxes on the healthcare sector as well as the wider economy.

Paying for the healthcare system: Under the law, all companies, whether private or public and regardless of size, will have to pay a 0.0025% tax on revenues to help fund the system. Hospitals and clinics will pay a tax of EGP 1,000 for every bed they have. Healthcare sector operators will also have to pay between EGP 1,000 and EGP 15,000 in fees to become part of the health system. A 5% levy on hospital stays will also be imposed. The law imposes fees on issuing and renewing drivers licenses ranging from EGP 20 to EGP 300 and will direct a cut from highway tolls to the system.

Rady again noted that the new healthcare system will roll out in Port Said in July, with the state footing the bill for 4% of healthcare costs there, reports Ahram Gate.

Electricity subsidy cuts coming across the board: Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker insisted that the 47% cut in electricity subsidies next fiscal year will see price rises hit all consumption tiers. His statement came in response to a suggestion by MPs that the lowest consumption tiers be exempted from the impact of the cuts. Industry will also be paying more, added Shaker, saying that prices for industry are cheaper than in many other countries. As we noted last month, the ministry is expected to raise prices 30-45% for everyone in July. Shaker also warned that those who do not pay for electricity next year will be cut off.

Shaker also noted that the ministry is planning to build 11 new power plants in FY2018-19.

Egypt will stop importing natural gas starting from next year, said Oil Minister Tarek El Molla at the hearings. He added that his ministry will focus on developing Egypt’s refining capacity over the next four years with an eye to reducing imports of fuel 30%, according to Al Mal.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Did the government really issue the executive regulations to the Universal Healthcare Act? The Ismail Cabinet has approved the executive regulations of the Universal Healthcare Act and issued them yesterday, Health Minister Ahmed Rady reportedly told the House Budget Committee hearings on Saturday. While we had been expecting the Ismail Cabinet to announce they had approved the new regs last week, no such announcement was made and it the document does not yet appear to have been printed in the Official Gazette.

Role of private sector did not appear to be defined by previous leak of regs: Contrary to previous government statements, the role of the private healthcare and insurance system do not appear to be mentioned in a copy of the regs leaked last month by Al Ahram. Vice Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait had said that the role of the private sector would be clarified in the executive regulations. Instead, the regs appear to focus on the roles, jurisdictions and functions of the new healthcare regulators and how the system itself would be operated.

LEGISLATION WATCH- House committees to discuss Leasing and Factoring Act, amendments to Economic Courts Act today: The House of Representatives’ Economic Committee is discussing today the proposed Leasing and Factoring Act, according to Ahram Gate. The legislation, which the Ismail Cabinet approved last August, sets up a regulatory framework for factoring and leasing, adds clauses to regulate SME financing and mandates the country’s economic courts with resolving legal issues under the act.

Parliament’s Constitutional and Legislative Committee will also review today amendments to the Economic Courts Act. The amendments would allow economic courts to handle consumer protection-related cases and look to expedite the dispute resolution process. The legislation would also grant economic courts jurisdiction over criminal violations of the Capital Markets Act, the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the Collateralized Assets Act, and the Civil Aviation Act. The Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) had raised objections to what it saw as a lack of input from ministries and government agencies impacted by the law, including the CBE, Financial Regulatory Authority, and Finance Ministry. It remains unclear whether the law has since undergone a rewrite.

EARNINGS WATCH- Madinet Nasr Housing and Development posted (pdf) a net profit after tax of EGP 313.5 mn in 1Q2018, down from EGP 407.2 mn during the same period last year. Top line was 18% lower y-o-y at EGP 610.8 mn, partially due to pre-sales reaching EGP 1.5 bn — most of which came from MNHD’s new project, Taj City. That’s down from EGP 1.8 bn during the same quarter in 2017. Contracted sales stood at EGP 1 bn during the quarter.

Gold miner Centamin reported a 122% y-o-y rise in profit in 1Q2018, which came in at USD 65.4 mn, according to a company statement (pdf). The Sukari gold mine produced 124,296 ounces of gold during the quarter at a cost of USD 581/oz.

Defense Ministry amends land use regulations in Sinai: The Defense Ministry issued a new directive on Saturday on regulations governing land use in Sinai, Youm7 reports. The directive, published in the Official Gazette, divide up the peninsula into zoning districts and restricting ownership in some of these districts to full Egyptian citizens born to Egyptian parents or companies with whose shareholders are entirely Egyptian. Developments in North Sinai will be restricted to Egyptians. Ownership in areas zoned residential and desert land in South Sinai would also be restricted to Egyptians as well. Land zoned for major infrastructure development can be owned by entities whose Egyptian shareholders hold at least 55%. Land designated for large investment projects appear open to all, according to the local press. The new directives reportedly came into effect on Friday. The move comes as the government hopes to implement a EGP 275 bn development plan for Sinai. Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr had stated that she was in talks with the World Bank for a USD 1 bn loan for Sinai.


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Egypt in the News

How slow a news day is it for Egypt in the international press? Slow enough that news “Egypt has moved the sixth and last chariot of famed pharaoh Tutankhamun to an under-construction museum near the pyramids in Giza“ from the Associated press is leading on both sides of the Atlantic (see the UK’s Independent and the Washington Post). The boy king’s artefact was moved from the military museum (its home for 30 years) and paraded through Cairo with a military police escort. Also making news: Police have again arrested atheist blogger Sherif Gaber, according to a filing from AFP that’s getting some traction.

CAC grad designs dress for Met Gala, one of the “most-scrutinized fashion events in the world”: Russian-American design student Katya Ekimian described Egypt as the “perfect place to learn to sew” after landing a gig to design a Met Gala dress for the wife of the president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Maya Salam writes for the New York Times. “Fabric was so inexpensive, and there was so much, I just started busting stuff out,” said the 19-year-old, who attended the Cairo American College, where she made prom dresses for herself and her friends. Ekimian’s dress for Sandra Jarva Weiss will make its red carpet debut tomorrow at the Met Gala, often described as “one of the most scrutinized fashion events in the world.”

American author Peter Hessler writes for the New Yorker about memories in Egypt, a country with “fable-like” politics. Hessler and his family moved to Cairo in October 2011 and returned to Colorado in the summer of 2016, witnessing the most eventful period in post-revolution Egypt. Despite the political turmoil, the family toured the country, with tourist sites largely abandoned. “Outside Cairo, politics disappeared,” he said. Hessler’s twin daughters, who were 17 months old when they moved, had no concept of their life before Egypt, and had no sense that it would ever end, he says. “For them, Egypt was um al-duniya.”

On World Press Freedom Day,Amnesty International called on Egyptian authorities to drop charges against jailed photojournalist Shawkan and release him immediately.

Worth Reading

Students — especially those who are always glued to a screen — learn better from print, not digital textbooks: Researchers have found that while most students say they prefer reading on a screen, their performance ends up suffering when they opt for a digital textbook, according to Business Insider. Part of the issue is “related to the disruptive effect that scrolling has on comprehension,” which applies to text that is longer than one page long. However, the main factor is that “digital natives” — students who grew up with or are highly accustomed to digital media — tend to read faster from a screen than from print, which results in fewer ideas and concepts being absorbed and therefore a lower rate of comprehension. The only exception to the rule: Individuals who are not accustomed to screens and therefore read more slowly, granting their brain more time to digest the information at hand.

Worth Watching

The next time you see Mo Salah on the street, look twice before asking him for a selfie. Giza-based engineer Ahmed Bahaa (a.k.a Mo Salah 2.0) got to meet the (real) football legend in his hometown of Nagrig, Egypt Independent reports. The video of the two posing for selfies in identical t-shirts was actually made in 2016 by Al Masry Al Youm, but has been making the rounds again after Bahaa re-posted the selfie with the “King of the World” last week. The lookalike has since made television appearances as Salah’s doppelganger. Watch the video on Instagram (runtime: 01:37).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Sudan and Ethiopia reiterated their pledge not to harm Egypt’s Nile water share through the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), New Times reports. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday after meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy in Khartoum, Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir vowed that the dam would be beneficial for Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Abiy also reiterated that Ethiopia does not “have any intention to harm Sudan or Egypt.”

The statement comes as a tripartite meeting of the three countries irrigation ministers took place in Addis Ababa yesterday. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Sileshi Bekele said that this meeting would set up a higher level conference on the dam, which will include the foreign ministers and intelligence chiefs of the three nations some time soon, Al Ahram reports.

Russia’s agricultural quarantine authorities banned a 140-tonne potato shipment from Egypt at the Novorossiysk Sea Port, alleging that they were infected with the potato moth pest, Russia Today reports. However, the head of Egypt’s Agricultural Quarantine Authority Ahmed El Attar told Al Shorouk that Egypt was yet to receive a formal notice of the ban. This is the second Russian ban on Egyptian potatoes in less than two months. Russian authorities flagged two potato shipments from Egypt in March over a brown rot contamination. The Trade and Industry Ministry confirmed at the time that this was not a blanket ban on potato exports to Russia and that it was limited to the two regions where the shipments originated. Romania also destroyed 1,100 kg of Egyptian potatoes last month after tests confirmed they were contaminated with brown rot disease.

Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in investing with and taking part in Egypt’s new sovereign wealth fund at the Egyptian-Saudi Economic Committee meetings which took place in Riyadh over the weekend. The Saudis will form a committee to look into the possible venture, read a statement from the Trade and Industry Ministry. The meetings also looked at procedures to coordinate any future issues regarding Egyptian agriculture imports deemed unsafe by Saudi Arabia. The move comes after the Saudis lifted a nine-month ban on Egyptian peppers and other agriculture goods. The meetings also looked at facilitating labor movement between both countries.


Eni announces new oil discovery in Western Desert’s Faghur Basin

Eni has made a new oil discovery from the SWM A-2X exploratory well in the Western Desert’s Faghur Basin in the South West Meleiha concession, the company announced on Thursday. The well has been opened to production and is expected to deliver 2,300 bop/d of light oil. Eni is planning further drilling in the area “that, in case of success, may open a new productive area in Egypt.”

Egypt, Saudi Arabia to sign electricity interconnection contracts in two months

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are expected to sign contracts for their USD 1.6 bn electricity interconnection project “in two months’ time,” Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker told reporters yesterday, Youm 7 reports. Egypt has completed all the necessary prep work for the project, which should see the two countries exchange up to 3 GW of power. Shaker also said that a similar interconnection project with Sudan would be established “within four months.” Egypt had made these interconnection projects a mainstay of foreign economic cooperation, with plans for projects underway with Jordan and potential plans with Cyprus.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt’s Valencia oranges in the midst of a “disastrous” market in Europe, grapes expected to fare better

The prospects for Egyptian grapes in the European market are “looking quite a lot better” this year compared to last year, but Valencia oranges are in the midst of a “disastrous” market, head of sales at Egyptian producer Spica, Omar Ehab, tells Fresh Plaza. “The first months of the year were very good. But, since April, the demand has all but collapsed,” Ehab says, adding that the warmer weather likely played a role in reducing demand on citrus.


AIND plans to invest EGP 10 mn to set up three new production lines in tile, cement bricks factories

Arabia Investments, Development, and Financial Investment Holding Company (AIND) is planning to invest EGP 10 mn in setting up three new production lines in its tile and cement bricks factories in Alamein and Abu Rawash, according to Chief Investment Officer Rania Afifi. The company plans to inaugurate two lines in the Alamein factory in August and December 2018, and the third line in the Abu Rawash factory by mid-May 2019. The three new lines, which will be financed through the CBE’s SMEs lending initiative, are expected to raise the company’s sales 50%.

Health + Education

Canadian politician raises human rights concerns following UPEI’s decision to establish a branch in Egypt

Leader of a provincial chapter of the minor Canadian opposition Green Party, Peter Bevan-Baker, voiced his concerns over the University of Prince Edward Island’s (UPEI) decision to establish a branch in Egypt due to “human rights violations raised by Human Rights Watch,” CBC News reports. Speaking at the Prince Edward Island legislature on Thursday, Bevan-Baker raised questions about using the “province’s identity and brand [to] contribute to legitimizing such an undemocratic regime,” and whether Canadian faculty members at the Egyptian branch would be protected under Canadian human rights laws.


Italian tourist bookings to Egypt this summer sees 100% y-o-y jump

Italian tourist bookings to Egypt this summer have seen a 100% y-o-y surge, compared to the same period last year, a Tourism Ministry source tells Youm7. January and February also saw a 75% y-o-y increase in Italian holidaymakers visiting Egypt, he adds. The country’s ailing tourism sector has been recovering slowly in the past few years, with a 66.5% y-o-y rise in group travel to Egypt in 2017.

Grand Egyptian museum to be completed in December, says Minister

The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is set to be completed in December this year, Antiquities Minister Khaled El Enany said yesterday at the fourth International Tutankhamun Conference, Al Mal reports. Check out our tour of the under-construction museum.

Automotive + Transportation

Austria’s Magna Steyr looks into potential automotive manufacturing project in SCZone

Austrian contract automotive manufacturer Magna Steyr discussed potentially establishing a plant in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) with SCZone head Mohab Mamish on Thursday, Al Mal reported. The company also said it is interested in producing automotive components in Egypt.

Banking + Finance

Palm Hills, Sarwa Capital close EGP 261 mn securitized bond issuance

Our friends at Sarwa Capital have closed a EGP 261 mn securitized bond issuance for Palm Hills Development (PHD), according to a statement to the EGX (pdf). The issuance is part of a EGP 346 mn receivables portfolio from PHD’s Palm Hills Katameya Extension, Palm Parks, and Hacienda White 2, the company said in a release (pdf). PHD plans to use the proceeds to pre-pay its existing debt. The offering is the first tranche of a EGP 560 mn issuance, with another EGP 300 mn tranche expected to follow at an unspecified time. Sarwa Capital was tapped in 2016 to manage the transaction, while CIB and Attijariwafa Bank were chosen as preliminary underwriters.

EEHC to raise USD 700 mn syndicated loan

The Egyptian Electricity Holding Company is working on raising a USD 700 mn syndicated loan with Credit Suisse and HSBC, Reuters reported on Thursday. “The new loan, guaranteed by the finance ministry, has a five-year maturity and is being syndicated to international and Gulf banks,” according to banking sources. No details were provided on what the EEHC plans to use the loan for, but we thinks odds are reasonable it’s related to the upgrade of the national electricity grid and / or bids to connect the grid to Saudi and other countries.


Everton, Leicester, Burnley eyeing Egyptian forward Trezeguet

Everton, Leicester, and Burnley are considering a move for Egyptian forward Mahmoud Hassan (a.k.a Trezeguet) ahead of the summer transfer window, sources told ESPN FC. The 23-year-old is currently on loan at Turkey’s Kasimpasa, where he’s scored 14 goals so far this season. Trezeguet has just over a year to run on his contract at Anderlecht.

On Your Way Out

Egyptian-Swedish filmmaker Tarik Saleh directed episode six of season two of American sci-fi Western thriller “Westworld,” Egypt Today reports. Saleh, who directed the award-winning controversial film “The Nile Hilton Incident,” will also direct the Congo war novel adaptation titled “Charlie Johnson in the Flames,” starring Liam Neeson, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The two startups representing Egypt at 500 Startups’s Seed Accelerator: Dating app Harmonica and mental health platform Shezlong are representing Egypt at 500 startups latest Speed Accelerator, Ventureburn reports. The four-month accelerator, which provides selected startups with an equity investment of USD 150k in exchange for a 6% stake, will conclude with a demo day on 28 June. With over 52,000 downloads and 30,000 matches, Harmonica uses an algorithm to match users with partners based on science. Meanwhile, Shezlong claims to be the first online psychotherapy platform in the Middle East and North Africa region. It connects users with with licensed therapists via video and text on both mobile and web platforms.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.61 | Sell 17.71
Buy 17.58 | Sell 17.68
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.57 | Sell 17.67

EGX30 (Thursday): 17,833 (-1.9%)
Turnover: EGP 1.4 bn (22% ABOVE the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +18.7%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session down 1.9%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended down 1.7%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were GB Auto up 2.4%, Egyptian Iron & Steel up 1.7%, and Egypt Aluminum up 0.6%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were Amer Group down 5.4%, Egyptian Resorts down 4.3%, and Global Telecom down 3.6%. The market turnover was EGP 1.4 bn, and foreign investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -92.4 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +48.6 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +43.8 mn

Retail: 50.1% of total trades | 55.1% of buyers | 45.1% of sellers
Institutions: 49.9% of total trades | 44.9% of buyers | 54.9% of sellers

Foreign: 34.4% of total | 31.0% of buyers | 37.8% of sellers
Regional: 8.3% of total | 10.0% of buyers | 6.5% of sellers
Domestic: 57.3% of total | 58.9% of buyers | 55.7% of sellers

WTI: USD 69.72 (+1.89%)
Brent: USD 74.87 (+1.70%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.71 MMBtu, (-0.55%)
Gold: USD 1,314.70 / troy ounce (+0.15%)

TASI: 8,107.47 (+0.11%) (YTD: +12.19%)
ADX: 4,556.82 (-1.69%) (YTD: +3.60%)
DFM: 2,947.99 (-1.83%) (YTD: -12.52%)
KSE Premier Market: 4,791.84 (+0.28%)
QE: 8,805.76 (-1.65%) (YTD: +3.31%)
MSM: 4,725.63 (-0.11%) (YTD: -7.33%)
BB: 1,263.50 (+0.19%) (YTD: -5.12%)

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04-06 May 2018 (Friday-Sunday): International Conference on Network Technology (ICNT 2018), venue TBD, Cairo.

05-06 May (Saturday-Sunday): Inclusive Growth and Job Creation Conference, venue TBD, Cairo.

07 May (Monday): American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) will be holding its fifth annual HR Day at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Plaza Ballroom.

08 May (Tuesday): The Egyptian embassy in London will be hosting a “Made in Egypt” gala exhibit event.

07 May (Monday): International Data Corporation’s CIO Summit, The Nile Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Cairo.

07-08 May (Monday-Tuesday): Fourth annual Egypt CSR Forum, InterContinental Semiramis Hotel, Cairo.

17 May (Thursday): Expected date for the start of Ramadan.

17 May (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

15-17 June (Friday-Sunday): Eid Al Fitr (TBC), national holiday (Look for possible Monday off given the first day falls on a Friday).

28 June (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

16 August (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

21-25 August (Tuesday-Saturday): Eid Al Adha (TBC), national holiday.

04-05 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Euromoney Egypt Conference 2018, Cairo.

11 September (Tuesday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

24-25 September (Monday-Tuesday): Egypt Water Desalination Forum, venue TBD.

27 September (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

06 October (Saturday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

23-24 October (Tuesday-Wednesday): Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference 2018, Fairmont Towers Heliopolis, Cairo.

15 November (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

20 November (Tuesday): Prophet’s Birthday (TBC), national holiday.

22 November (Thursday): US Thanksgiving.

25-28 November (Sunday-Wednesday): 22nd Cairo ICT, Cairo Convention Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

25 December (Tuesday): Western Christmas.

27 December (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

01 January 2019 (Tuesday): New Year’s Day, national holiday.

07 January 2019 (Monday): Coptic Christmas.

25 January 2019 (Friday): Police Day, national holiday.

25 April 2019 (Thursday): Sinai Liberation day, national holiday.

28 April 2019 (Sunday): Easter Sunday, national holiday.

29 April 2019 (Monday): Easter Monday, national holiday.

01 May 2019 (Wednesday): Labor Day, national holiday.

06 May 2019 (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

05-06 June 2019 (Wednesday-Thursday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

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